First, we’re told liquid makeup has harmful chemicals and mineral makeup is healthier. Now, a well-known medical professional says mineral makeup is more dangerous than liquid.
An obscure product just a few years ago, mineral makeup is now part of nearly every cosmetic brand’s product line. Millions of women use it, many of them doing so because they wanted to stop using liquid foundations which put chemical ingredients into their skin. A key selling point for mineral products is that they come from the earth and consist of natural minerals such as zinc and titanium. That doesn’t mean they don't contain chemicals, minerals are made up of chemical elements, but since the companies don’t put in additional chemical ingredients they claim the products are purer.
Web M.D. offers different points of view on mineral makeup. On the one hand, they state key ingredients have been the basis of most makeup foundations for decades and quote an expert who calls mineral makeup marketing hype. On the other hand, Web M.D. states, “dermatologists report that because mineral makeup frequently eliminates classic ‘irritants’ – like fragrances, binders, synthetic dyes and preservatives -- it is considered ‘purer’ and can be kinder to the skin.”
Dr. Oz Says Throw Out Your Mineral Makeup:
Thousands of women are now wondering whether or not to use these products. On a television show segment about the most dangerous beauty products, Dr. Mehmet Oz declared mineral makeup unsafe and told women to stop using it.
From Dr. Oz. com, “Mineral makeup is a big trend. Made from minerals such as mica, which are used for industrial purposes as well, these tiny particles are a thousand times smaller than predecessors from even 10 years ago. Their small size makes for a smoother, more flawless look, but it has one serious unintended consequence. The particles are so tiny they fall quickly through the air and can be inhaled easily into your lungs. When construction workers use mica in products such as spackle, they wear masks to protect their lungs from scarring over time. Though there are no studies showing damage from makeup use to date, experts say the long-term use and inhalation of minerals in makeup can lead to inflammation, irritation and lung disease in women and girls.”
Dr. Oz advised women to stop wearing mineral makeup and switch to a liquid-based foundation “with shimmer for a similar effect as a mineral powder.” He added, “If you must use powder, select a pressed power and open a window when you apply it.” He did not address the chemicals contained in liquid foundations.
Leading Mineral Makeup Firm Responds:
The top-selling mineral makeup product company is San Francisco-based Bare Escentuals. CEO Leslie Blodgett issued the following statement through the company’s Facebook page:
“The safety and well being of every customer is of paramount concern at Bare Escentuals... There is absolutely no credible scientific evidence that our mineral cosmetic products can be easily inhaled into the lungs, much less linking our mineral cosmetic products with negative health effects. Unsupported allegations that all mineral cosmetic products are 'dangerous,' based on what unidentified 'experts' have supposedly said, are unnecessarily alarming and fear-inducing because such allegations are simply not supported by any credible evidence. We stand behind our products and look forward to continuing to provide high quality products to the millions of women whose lives have been touched by bareMinerals.”
What You Really Need to Know:
While mineral makeups may look alike, there is a critical difference you need to be aware of if you use this product. Some mineral make-ups use ultra-fine particles, called nanoparticles, which can be inhaled and embedded in the lungs. Nanoparticles also penetrate the skin more easily and may even penetrate the circulatory system. Not much is known about their impact on humans yet, but studies are underway.
Most mineral make-ups, however, including Bare Minerals, don’t use nanoparticles. They use larger micronized ingredients that they state are too large to penetrate the lungs and cells. Micronized ingredients are measured in millionths of a meter. This makes a micron 1000 times larger than a nanometer. Most mineral make-up companies claim to use a median particle size of 12-15 microns or higher (12,000-15,000 nanometers and up).
What You Should Do:
First, know whether your mineral make-up uses nanoparticles or micronized particles. Some state which they use on their websites. You can also look up multiple brands here:
Second, reduce airborne dust when putting on mineral makeup. Work the powder into the brush before applying it. If you shake out the brush, do so away from your face.
Third, if you decide to drop mineral makeup and switch to a liquid, study the product ingredients first. Most contain multiple chemicals so know what you’re getting.
The bottom line, buyer beware. None of these products are subject to review or approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the industry is self-regulated. It’s up to the consumer to understand the chemicals used in make-up, proper application and what’s in one’s best interest.
About the author: Pat Elliott is a journalist and blogger who has written about health issues for more than 20 years. She is also a cancer survivor who coaches people on how to manage their transition and take control of their new future.